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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Cumbria council will assess fracking applications on their merits

A large swathe of land across Cumbria could be under consideration for fracking, according to a report analysing the UK.

Fracking photo

The report, produced by data mapping scientist Gianfranco Cecconi using government data, shows a large section of land from the west coast through Carlisle and into the north east as being ‘under consideration’ by energy companies as a potential site for the controversial gas extraction.

UK areas where fracking is not being considered due to the unlikeliness of extracting shale gas are the Lake District National Park, Northumberland National Park, most of Devon and Cornwall, Wales, Suffolk and Essex.

The map shows more than half of Britain, and about two-thirds of England, could be open to fracking. In Cumbria, council chiefs said they believed there was “a much larger resource of coal” and they were more likely to receive coal bed methane extraction than shale oil or gas.

They also dismissed concern that a cash incentive offered by the government could influence any decision on whether fracking would be allowed. Their comments came after the prime minister revealed local authorities would receive all the business rates collected from shale gas schemes, rather than the usual 50 per cent, if drilling got the go-ahead in their boundaries.

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said they would assess any application on its merits

He said: “If at the end of a full and fair planning process there is a financial bonus for the council through the government’s new proposal on business rates, then all well and good, but it should not influence the planning decision.”

The spokesman said the council had not received any applications for shale oil or gas development.

“The county’s geology is complex and the British Geological Survey shows there is a narrow band of shale rock across Allerdale and Carlisle districts, and a much larger resource of coal under Cumbria, both deep and shallow,” he added.

“It therefore seems more likely coal bed methane extraction will occur onshore rather than shale oil/gas extraction.”

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